BACC likely to shorten hours

Bangkok City Hall has now cut funding, risking the very future of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, seen here on Wednesday with a banner advertising an exhibition. (Photos by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) in Pathumwan district must tighten its belt by reducing its operating hours after City Hall failed to approve its budget this year, according to Pawit Mahasarinand, the facility’s director.

“We have to cut costs because we can only run the centre until the middle of next year according to the budget we have in our hands,” he said on Wednesday.

“We are weighing the pros and cons of all cost-saving measures. We may have to reduce the hours, and we might need to ask for donations from visitors. But we will keep providing art for public consumption, which is our duty,” he added.

One of proposed measures is scaling back opening times from 10am-9pm to 11am-8pm to reduce utility bills.

Mr Pawit also provided updates on the BACC’s financial situation.

“Our problems are continuing because City Hall has yet to approve our operating budget for fiscal 2019. It claims there is an issue related to technicalities in the contract that prevents the Bangkok City Council from giving the nod on a budget to run the place,” he said.

He said major art and cultural programmes, including the Bangkok Biennial from Oct 19 to next February, would not be changed.

BACC, the first public art centre in the capital, has been in the red since last year after the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) deferred disbursing its budget, citing the poor performance of the foundation appointed to run the centre. As a result, the annual contract was not renewed.

Activist-supporters of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre have adopted a hashtag slogan of #saveyourbacc in the crisis-level battle for control of the centre.

Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang posted on his Facebook account Wednesdayy that the BMA tried to get the budget approved but the council refused to cooperate out of fear it could violate certain regulations pertaining to fiscal disbursement.

Pol Gen Aswin, who was appointed as governor by a Section 44 order by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha,  said one of the reasons why the BMA could not approve the budget was because the foundation failed to provide details of planned projects and activities.

“If the BACC foundation needs the budget, it must follow the rules,” he wrote.

The BACC was built on an investment of 509 million baht from the BMA. It was inaugurated on July 29, 2008.

Each year it hosts more than 100 events.

It received over 1.7 million visitors in 2017, a huge leap from previous years. Only 300,000 turned up in its first year of operation.

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